Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Guilford County Schools Salaries: 2017-2018

The Guilford County Board of Education deserves to be congratulated. While the salaries of other senior government executives in the area are rising at alarming rates, the Guilford County Schools superintendent hasn’t had a significant raise in 10 years. Much of the credit for that salary cap goes to former Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green, who refused to accept a raise from 2008 to 2015 when he was the Guilford County Schools superintendent. There aren’t many people out there who turn down raises from their boss every year but Green did. He could have easily been making $300,000...

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Under the Hammer: June 21, 2018

Reading the report of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, it is obvious that Dr. Jill McCabe, the wife of fired FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe, was recruited by the Clinton machine to run for office and then showered with money to give the Clintons more influence at the FBI. The inspector general’s report documents Dr. McCabe’s brief political career. First Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe stops by the hospital where she works to meet her. Then McAuliffe invites her to the governor’s mansion to talk about running for office. While she is there he takes her to a speech in his limousine where he introduces her to the audience, then he takes her back to the governor’s mansion to talk further about running for office. It doesn’t make sense for McAuliffe to court someone so intensely who was not politically active to run for an office that he knew she couldn’t win. Then McAuliffe provides her campaign with $675,000 up front, which was 40 percent of the money she raised. He probably provided another large percentage through donors loyal to the Clintons from across the country. That is huge money to a novice running for a state Senate seat, but is chicken feed to the Clinton machine, so it probably didn’t take McAuliffe much effort to raise the money for her campaign. Then wonder of wonders, Andy McCabe, a...

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Rhino Shorts: June 14, 2018

New York Times best-selling author Jerry Bledsoe has a new book out. Bledsoe – who was a columnist for the Greensboro Daily News and then the News & Record, as well as The Charlotte Observer and the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal before he made the decision to leave newspapers behind and write true crime books – is not the most technologically advanced writer I know. But in this case Bledsoe is trying something new, and his book Do-Good Boy: An Unlikely Writer Confronts the ’60s and Other Indignities is only available in a digital format. So if you want a...

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2017-2018 Greensboro Employee Salaries

The 2018 City of Greensboro salary list has some changes at the top and bottom. Coliseum Director Matt Brown has been the highest paid city employee for years and, on Jan. 1, Brown received the largest raise of any city employee for the past year – raising him from the $288,445 he was paid in 2017 to $324,500 in 2018. That’s a raise of $36,055, and the result is that Brown is being paid $130,240 more than his boss, City Manager David Parrish, who is paid $194,260. The City Council has had several discussions on salary compression, which is...

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City Council’s Deep Dive into Greensboro Budget Lasts 16 Minutes

The Greensboro City Council held its in-depth discussion of the budget at its work session on Tuesday, June 12 in the Plaza Level Conference Room. The discussion lasted 16 minutes and most of it was not about the budget but about how to determine the funding for nonprofit organizations in the future. The City Council then spent 30 minutes discussing, once again, the Minority and Women Enterprise (MWBE) program and how to implement the recommendations from the new disparity study. The City Council discusses the MWBE program more than any other single topic, so spending twice as long discussing...

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Greensboro City Council Bill Gets Hung Up In Legislature While Coliseum Bill Sails Through

This is the tale of two bills. The first one requested by the Greensboro City Council could be titled, “How not to get a bill passed by the state legislature,” and the second, requested by Greensboro Coliseum Director Matt Brown, “How to get a bill passed.” Instead of paying a lobbyist $5,000 a month, the next time the City Council wants to get a bill through the legislature, somebody should call Brown and he can explain how to get it done. The councilmembers have repeatedly said that they want a revision made to the law creating the Police Community...

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Lunch with Rep. Ted Budd

One of the perks of being a journalist is you get to have fancy lunches with important people. So when Todd Poole, who works for 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, called and said they wanted to get together for lunch, I wondered if I was dressed appropriately. It turns out I was, because we had lunch at Yum Yum on Spring Garden Street. Budd had spent the morning with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson touring the area of east Greensboro damaged by the tornado on April 15. Budd said he had been in the area on April...

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Under the Hammer: June 14, 2018

When President Donald Trump called North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” and said that his nuclear button was bigger than Kim’s and it worked, the mainstream media went ballistic and said that Trump was starting a nuclear war. The mainstream media also said that Kim would never come to the negotiating table with Trump after those insulting comments and that Kim might attack Guam. As late as last week, mainstream media pundits were saying that the meeting would never take place. Once again the mainstream media let their hatred of Trump get in the way of reporting the news. And Trump proved to the mainstream media that he knows way more about negotiating than they do. A couple of weeks ago when Trump cancelled the meeting in Singapore, the mainstream media said, we told you so; the meeting will never take place. Those whose eyes were not blinded by hate saw the cancellation as what it was – a negotiating tactic. Some of the statements out of North Korea had gone too far. Trump was sending a message loud and clear to Kim that he would meet but not if Kim’s goal was to humiliate him. Kim got the message and now Trump has done something no previous president has been able to do – he met with the leader of North Korea and they signed...

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Guilford County Government Employee Salaries

The Guilford County salary list for the 2017-2018 budget year doesn’t have any big surprises but does indicate a trend in government salaries at every level, which continues whether the government is run by Democrats or Republicans. People complain about the wide gap in the private sector between the top administrators and the workers. The gap in local governments is not as wide, but it continues to get wider every year. For the first time, the Guilford County manager is being paid over $200,000 a year plus benefits. Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing was paid $203,000 this year. In...

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Google Strikes, Trudy Wade Strikes Back

Republican State Sen. Trudy Wade is in the midst of her 15 minutes of fame, although it may be longer than 15 minutes, and being called a “bigot” is not the kind of fame anyone wants. Last week Wade got a call from a News & Observer reporter telling her that when someone Googled her name, what came up in the “knowledge panel” on the right hand side of the screen was a photo of Wade with “BIGOT” splashed across the bottom of the photo. Wade’s office contacted Google to find out how to remove the image and was...

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City Council Manager Pick of David Parrish a Pleasant Surprise

Just when you think that rational thought has been banned from the Council Chambers, the Greensboro City Council does something so sensible it’s shocking. And that was the case shortly before 11 p.m. at the Tuesday, June 5, Greensboro City Council meeting when the council voted unanimously to promote interim City Manager David Parrish to city manager. According to the resolution read by Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Parrish, who is 39, will have an annual salary of $194,000 and receive an executive allowance of $1,000 a month. Parrish was named interim city manager in March after former City Manager Jim...

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Greensboro City Council All Ears at Meeting for 43 Speakers on Budget, MWBE’s, Panhandling and More

If it’s the job of the Greensboro City Council to listen to complaints from any citizen who walks in city hall, the City Council is doing a great job. At the monthly town hall meeting held on Tuesday, June 5, the City Council heard from 43 speakers. There was shouting. There was crying. And in the midst of all that was a request for $10 million for a $100 million development in east Greensboro. A good number of speakers talked about the recent disparity study and the city’s Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) program. Former City Councilmember and...

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Under the Hammer: June 7, 2018

The saying that if you repeat something often enough people will think it’s true certainly is the case for the media reporting on President Donald Trump. It has been reported so many times that Trump said that he fired FBI Director Jim Comey because the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that everyone accepts it as true. But – as Trump’s attorneys pointed out in their long memo to special prosecutor Bob Mueller, which was leaked to The New York Times – that isn’t what Trump said. Trump’s attorneys – instead of pulling out one incomplete thought, which has been done time and time again – take a transcript of the entire interview Trump did with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and dissect it. What happened was one incomplete answer from that interview was excerpted, and in that partial answer it appears Trump is saying that the Russian investigation is the reason he fired Comey, but the complete transcript proves that wasn’t what he was saying at all. In fact, he said he knew that firing Comey might prolong the investigation, and when asked if he was doing this to stop the investigation, Trump said, “No, I’m not doing that. I think we have to get back to work. But I want to find out, I want to get to the bottom –...

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Rhino Shorts: June 7, 2018

To no one’s surprise, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget passed by the Republican state legislature. It really doesn’t make any difference. The Republicans don’t care because they have the votes to override the veto. The Democrats in the legislature don’t care because all it means for them is that they get to vote against the budget a second time. It is simply political theater. By vetoing the budget Cooper gets the headlines for a day and he can tell the teachers he would have given them far more than a 6.5 percent raise, but he should also tell them that in his opinion they should pay more taxes because there are more tax cuts in the state budget also. It will be interesting when Cooper starts running for reelection. What is he going to claim that he did while governor? He could have tried to work with the Republicans and maybe come up with some wins, but he chooses to sit back and veto bills knowing that, on anything important, the Republicans are going to override that veto. It doesn’t seem like much of an achievement. ***** I was shocked when I was driving on Davie Street last weekend and the traffic light at February One Place was blinking yellow instead of changing from red to yellow to green. I had assumed that there was some law...

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Police Officer in Yourse Case Files Lawsuit Against City

It’s just like old times – Greensboro is once again being sued by a former Greensboro police officer. Former Greensboro Police Officer Charlotte Jackson, who was forced to resign following the arrest of Dejuan Yourse on June 17, 2016, has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Greensboro for “violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses contained in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United State Constitution. And also for depravation of her due process rights, and liberty and or property rights under the North Carolina Constitution. The case was filed with the US District Court for...

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Teachers Get Raises, Citizens Get Tax Relief, In NC State Budget

On Wednesday, May 30, the North Carolina state Senate, by a 36-to-14 vote, gave initial approval to the 2018-2019 budget, which includes pay raises for teachers and state employees and tax cuts for citizens and corporations. The initial Senate vote on the budget passed with all Republicans and one Democrat voting in favor. The budget is expected to pass both the state Senate and state House by Friday. It would appear to be a budget everyone could support, but it will most likely pass the state Senate and state House on mostly party line votes, be vetoed by Gov....

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Greensboro City Council Phoning in the Budget

The public hearing on the $542 million Greensboro 2018-2019 budget is Tuesday, June 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at city hall. The Greensboro City Council hasn’t shown much interest in the budget. The one budget work session since the budget was presented by interim City Manager David Parrish lasted less than 40 minutes. The city had an effective tax increase in the 2017-2018 budget of 2.11 cents, but there is no tax increase planned for 2018-2019. Of course, tax increases are a gift that keeps on giving. This year the city received about $5.5 million in...

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Changing Face of Republican Party

It’s not your grandfather’s Republican Party anymore. If you think the Republican Party is made up entirely of old white men, you need to take another look at the cover of this newspaper. I noticed an increase in the number of non-white faces at the Guilford County Republican Party Lincoln Reagan Dinner a couple weeks ago and wrote a short piece about it. Guilford County Republican Party Chairman and District 57 state House candidate Troy Lawson, who is black, called me up to say he was glad I had noticed and that increasing the diversity of the Republican Party...

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Under the Hammer: May 31, 2018

The Washington Post – in an attempt to defend the FBI for spying on the Trump campaign – is claiming that for President Donald Trump to say that the FBI spied on his campaign is false because the FBI doesn’t call it spying. In fact, from reading one article, it appears The Washington Post believes the FBI is charged with defining words in the English language. Trump is not required to use the jargon that the FBI uses. In fact, as president, Trump is far better off speaking the same language as the American people and not government-speak. It is an indication of the level of insanity at The Washington Post that it would even consider rebuking Trump because the FBI doesn’t like the terms he is using. What should be a concern to all Americans is that the FBI was using a spy, or a “personal asset,” in an attempt to get inside information about a presidential campaign when it had no credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing. But imagine where we are now – The Washington Post and The New York Times are defending the right of the FBI to wiretap innocent citizens who are not even suspected of committing a crime and to send spies, informants, secret agents, personal assets, whatever you want to call them – people with the goal of spying – into the presidential...

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Rhino Shorts May 31, 2018

City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy is asking for a correction of the article about the budget work session, but we stand by the story that states she objected to the funding for Sanctuary House. Kennedy says that she is a supporter of Sanctuary House, but at the May 22 City Council meeting when the discussion was about whether or not to continue to fund organizations like Sanctuary House because they had been funded before – instead of to branching out to different nonprofits and nonprofits that furthered a City Council priority – Kennedy noted that Sanctuary House was a county priority area. That didn’t sound like support for Sanctuary House at the time and still doesn’t. Several people who attended the council meeting agreed that Kennedy’s comments were not in support of funding Sanctuary House. I don’t see any way in context the comments could be interpreted as supportive. Former City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who was defeated in his reelection bid, had pushed hard to get funding for Sanctuary House. There was a question whether the funding would continue without Wilkins to push for it. Sanctuary House was one of the few nonprofit organizations funded by the city that was talked about by name. ***** District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister told me he had a call from a teacher recently who told him that he had been teaching since...

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‘Opportunity Zones’ Could Spur Growth In Downtown and East Greensboro

A large part of east Greensboro was officially designated as a North Carolina opportunity zone on Friday, May 18, offering unique tax incentives for those who make a significant investment in the area. The opportunity zones were created by the Republican Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which became law late last year. In that legislation, along with the federal income tax cuts, was a provision for states to designate opportunity zones in areas where the poverty rate is over 20 percent or family income is less than 80 percent of the area’s median income. Ten census tracks in Greensboro...

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Greensboro City Councilmembers Show Little Interest in Budget, Use Excuse For Leaving Early

Most people aren’t interested in the city budget. It’s a bunch of numbers that don’t make much sense to people and they would rather not deal with it. But what is shocking is that nine of those people who aren’t interested in the budget have been elected to the Greensboro City Council. On Tuesday, May 22, the City Council had its big budget meeting.   Interim City Manager David Parrish had presented the manager’s budget to the City Council at its meeting on May 15, and this was the work session where the City Council was scheduled to meet to...

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News & Record Finds Buyer for Building

The News & Record building at 200 E. Market St. owned by BH Media Group, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has been for sale since September 2017, is reportedly under contract to Greg Dillon, the president of Dillon Development Partners headquartered in Frederick, Maryland. Dillon is also a partner in the downtown Westin Hotel-February One Place parking deck project that is being built as a public-private partnership with the City of Greensboro. The Westin Hotel-February One Place parking deck is being built directly across Davie Street from the News & Record property, which has been the home...

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Under the Hammer: May 24, 2018

The mainstream media reporting on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian attorney who he was told had dirt on Hillary Clinton covers it as if having a meeting to get dirt on a political opponent is illegal in and of itself. But if that is the case, then what about the Hillary Clinton campaign hiring a foreign national to pay Russian informants for dirt on Donald Trump? If Trump Jr. meeting for 10 minutes with a Russian attorney is illegal then somebody from the Hillary Clinton campaign should be in jail. There is no dispute that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid the law firm Perkins Coie who paid Fusion GPS who paid Christopher Steele, a British citizen, who then paid Russian informants for salacious rumors about Donald Trump. But according to the mainstream media, Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian attorney was wrong and the Clinton campaign paying Russian informants is perfectly acceptable. Is it any wonder that people no longer trust the mainstream media? ***** The hit piece in The New York Times on Thursday, May 17, is an incredible piece of work. Even if it had run on the editorial page instead of on the front page, it would be incredible for what is left out. But as a news article it is so one-sided and so biased that The New...

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Tales of J.J. the Office Cat

J.J., The Rhinoceros Times office cat, died Saturday of cancer. J.J. was 11 years old. As an office cat, J.J. had a great deal of responsibility thrust on him at a young age. He proved to be capable at every task he was given, if somewhat overzealous at times. Some offices have security systems, some have watch dogs, The Rhinoceros Times had J.J., who was responsible for security 24 hours a day, and solely responsible when everyone else left the office in the evenings and on weekends. He never left his post or shirked his duties during the entire...

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Rhino Shorts: May 24, 2018

The May Rhino Times Schmoozefest is Thursday, May 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau at 2411 W. Gate City Blvd. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all business professionals who sign in and wear a name tag while supplies last. ***** Teachers closed down schools across the state to march on Raleigh and demand higher teacher salaries and more spending on education. Maybe that’s not the way to go. New York City, which has the highest per pupil spending rate of the country’s 100 largest school districts at over $24,000, has dismal success in the classroom. In New York City Schools, 72 percent of eighth graders tested as not proficient in reading and 72 percent as not proficient in math. Boston which spends over $22,000 per student, the second highest in the nation, does a little better with 68 percent not proficient in reading and 67 percent not proficient in math. It seems like it might be an indication that spending more money is not the answer. ***** News & Record reporter Margaret Moffett, who has been covering the Greensboro City Council and, lately, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, attended her last City Council meeting as a News & Record reporter Tuesday. Moffett is moving a few blocks west on Market Street where she will be managing editor...

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News & Record Property Reportedly Under Contract

The News & Record building at 200 E. Market St. owned by BH Media Group, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has been for sale since September 2017, is reportedly under contract to Greg Dillon, the president of Dillon Development Partners headquartered in Frederick, Maryland. Dillon is also a partner in the downtown Westin Hotel-February One Place parking deck project that is being built as a public-private partnership with the City of Greensboro. The Westin Hotel-February One Place parking deck is being built directly across Davie Street from the News & Record property, which has been the home...

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Under the Hammer: May 17, 2018

So the FBI had a spy inside the Trump for president campaign. It seems all the big time journalists know who it is but aren’t telling. Rush Limbaugh says he knows the name but it isn’t one that would mean anything to most people. It really doesn’t matter what the name is, if the FBI did in fact have a spy in the Trump campaign then the FBI needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom. If the guys at the top believe that spying on a presidential campaign is the job of the FBI then we need to get rid of anyone who took part or knew about that decision, and the next level under them as well. Even those who were not at the top but participated need to go because they don’t understand the role of the FBI and the danger of having federal agencies insert themselves into the election process. We cannot have free and fair elections in this country if the FBI is involved in political campaigns. If the FBI had a spy in the Trump campaign then the people of this country need to know when that spy was engaged by the FBI and when he started spying on the campaign. The FBI has said that the investigation into the Trump campaign began after a drunken conversation between George Papadopoulos, an unpaid...

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Panhandlees Hold Key to Problem

There is a solution to the panhandling problem that plagues downtown businesses that doesn’t involve arresting people, new laws or any government intervention at all. This is a problem that can be solved completely by the people involved: the panhandler and the panhandlee. People, many of them homeless, panhandle because people give them money. Some reportedly make more money panhandling than they could make working at a regular job. Plus, panhandlers get to set their own hours. No one yells at them if they’re late for work, leave early or don’t come in at all. It reportedly is a steady source of income with nothing taken out for taxes and you get paid in cash. Once a panhandler has made enough for a day, he or she can quit and do whatever they want for the rest of the day. But the key is that panhandlers are out asking for money because it is profitable. There is no upfront investment, so everything they take in is profit. So if you want to see the end of panhandling, stop giving to people who ask you for money on the sidewalk or by the side of the road. If you want to help them, donate money to one of the many charitable organizations in Greensboro who work with those in need: Urban Ministries, The Salvation Army and the Interactive Resource Center...

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Carroll Companies, Greensboro Reopen Eugene Street Parking Deck Negotiations

The saga of the two proposed downtown parking decks continues. As far as the proposed parking deck on the corner of North Eugene and Bellemeade streets across from the ball park on land owned by the Carroll Companies (which also own this newspaper) is concerned, when Mayor Nancy Vaughan called Roy Carroll on Monday, April 23 and said the city was walking away from the negotiating table and was going to build a deck across the street, that wasn’t entirely true. Carroll and the city are back at the table and met last week to discuss how to move...

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City Council Can’t Get Past Aggressive Panhandling Issue

The Greensboro City Council spent over two hours discussing the solicitation ordinance it had passed in April and about 20 minutes on the 2018-2019 budget at the regular meeting on Tuesday, May 15. It’s a good indication of where this City Council’s priorities are – and they aren’t on taxes, water rates or the budget that has an effect on all 290,000 residents of the city. The City Council eventually passed the new ordinance outlawing aggressive solicitation, but it was by a 5-to-4 vote, which means the ordinance will have to be passed by the City Council again before...

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Courthouse Tradition Not Dead Yet

A long-standing Guilford County election tradition is not dead yet, but Tuesday night it looked like it was close. In the past candidates, campaign staff, families, friends and media all crowded into the Commissioners Meeting Room at the Old Guilford County Court House to watch the election returns posted. Years ago it was required if you wanted to see the returns as soon as they came in. Television and radio would report the returns as they were posted, but there was no way to sit at home and watch the actual returns as they came in. At that time...

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Retraction and Correction of Republican State House District 59 Endorsements

The Rhino Times is retracting and correcting the portion of the article with the headline “Get Your May 8 Primary Endorsements Here” beginning on page 6 of the Thursday, May 3 edition and continuing on page 48 under the subhead “Republican Primary NC House – District 59.” The new article corrects inadvertent errors in the May 3 article that were made due to voluminous documents covering the numerous lawsuits over a number of years regarding the Southeastern Eye Center and related business entities. We apologize for the errors and regret any difficulties they may have caused.   NC House...

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Under the Hammer: May 3, 2016

According to news reports, special prosecutor Bob Mueller has threatened to subpoena President Donald Trump if he doesn’t agree to be questioned by Mueller. If it comes down to that, I hope that Trump refuses and takes the case to the Supreme Court. Mueller was appointed special prosecutor, not supreme dictator. If he has found evidence of illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, he should put his cards on the table and Trump can decide whether or not to answer his inquiries. If this is simply a fishing expedition, which is what it appears to be, then Trump should refuse and let the Supreme Court decide whether or not a special prosecutor has unlimited power. Mueller doesn’t appear to have any evidence of illegal collusion by the Trump campaign and is now after Trump for obstruction of justice based on illegally leaked classified memos by Mueller’s good friend fired FBI Director Jim Comey. What this boils down to is the classic disgruntled former employee attempting to get back at his old boss. It’s nothing new. It happens in every business with more than a couple of employees. What makes this different is that the disgruntled former employee has a cadre of powerful friends such as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed his friend Mueller to investigate the firing of their mutual friend Comey. For...

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Rhino Shorts: May 3, 2018

News & Record editorial page editor Steven Doyle had a column in the paper on Wednesday, April 25, that made me wonder what planet he is living on, because it’s not planet Earth. The funny thing is that I agree with Doyle’s premise: Sean Hannity is not a journalist and neither are most of the people you see on network news. But then Doyle goes on to explain what makes a person a journalist, and I have no idea where he got this stuff. Doyle states, “Reporters are bound by law and process to seek both sides of a perspective, even if that opposing perspective is thin or unavailable.” No, they aren’t. There is no such law, nor could there be because reporters are protected by the First Amendment. The idea that a reporter could be arrested for not presenting both sides of a story fairly is laughable. He also states, “Journalists disclose our conflicts annually, through formal internal processes that require us to document any area in which our income might be derived from and personal relationships with those we might cover. Journalists are required to delineate stocks holdings, spousal employment and other nuances of relationships.” No, they aren’t.   Some companies might require that, but you can’t say that journalists are because they aren’t. There is no governing body over journalists that has a database of conflicts of...

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Councilmembers Question Mayor Vaughan’s Cancellation of Carroll Companies Parking Deck Deal

Here is an aspect that seems to have been overlooked in the hoopla following Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s Monday, April 23 call to Roy Carroll to inform him that the negotiations were over to build a city-owned parking deck on his property at the corner of Bellemeade and Eugene streets in downtown Greensboro. Vaughan, as mayor, doesn’t have the authority to cancel a deal approved by a vote of the Greensboro City Council, or at least that’s what a number of city councilmembers think. The Greensboro City Council held a work session, a closed session and a regular business meeting...

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Get Your May 8 Primary Endorsements Here

Usually by this time in the cycle, there is some buzz about the upcoming election. In a presidential election year most people, by the week before the primary, just want it to be over so that the political commercials, which they know by heart, will stop running every 30 seconds on television. However, 2018 is not one of those years. This is one of the quietest elections in years. It’s an off year, so there are no national races and the only statewide race is for a Supreme Court justice with no primary. But we have made our endorsements...

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City Backs Out of Carroll Companies Parking Deck

Monday, April 23, Carroll Companies owner Roy Carroll received a call from Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan informing him that the deal to build the parking deck at Bellemeade and Eugene streets was off and that the city would build a parking deck on Commerce Place instead.  Carroll, who owns this newspaper, said, “I was about as shocked as I could be to receive the mayor’s call yesterday that they were going to a plan B.” He added, “We stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of the city’s departure from good faith negotiations over the...

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City Caves to Scarfone, Westin Hotel Parking Deck Now a Go

You can fight city hall and win. Cone Denim Entertainment Center owner Rocky Scarfone just proved it by agreeing to settle his lawsuit against the city for $735,000, plus a wider unobstructed easement, plus some land and concessions the city evidently threw in to sweeten the deal. In addition, to make the deal work, the city agreed to pay Limelight nightclub $150,000 for its rights to the easement plus $35,000 in attorney fees. So the cost to the city to buy the easement – which the City Council earlier voted to condemn and purchase for $55,000 – cost the...

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City Council Reforms Panhandling Laws, Passes Local Preference Policy

Tuesday night was a doozy of a Greensboro City Council meeting and it was City Manager Jim Westmoreland’s last before he retires April 30. Westmoreland received two standing ovations at the beginning of the April 24 meeting when he was presented with a seal to the city from Mayor Nancy Vaughan and after he spoke. Westmoreland made a few remarks, mainly thanking everyone and talking about what a privilege it has been to be a Greensboro city employee for 18 years and city manager for four. He also talked about how proud he was to be the city manager...

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Rhino Shorts: April 26, 2018

The April Schmoozefest is Thursday, April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Loaded Grape at 2915 Battleground Ave. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all
business professionals who sign in and wear a name tag while supplies last. **** The Guilford County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education are currently having a study done of building needs for Guilford County Schools. The tornado coming through east Greensboro resulted in three elementary schools being closed for the rest of the year and the entire student bodies of those schools have been sent to three other elementary schools. What is startling is that none of the three elementary schools that will take on an entire school of new students for the rest of the year will technically be overcrowded. So three elementary schools in the east Greensboro area can each take on an additional entire Guilford County school without reaching capacity. Judging from that, it appears the study may find that Guilford County has an excess of classroom space but isn’t making good use of it. **** The City Council held a work session on the 2018-2019 budget on Tuesday. The council heard presentations on the tax rate, which the city is going to try to keep flat; water and sewer rates, which the city plans to increase; improving the hazardous waste program; and participatory budgeting. It’s...

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Under the Hammer: April 26, 2018

Reading the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, is a pretty scary practice these days. Even strict constructionist don’t seem to actually believe that the rights guaranteed to Americans in the Bill of Rights should be followed today. The Second Amendment says, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” But that right is infringed all over the place: background checks, pistol permits, restrictions on the kinds of guns Americans can own. The left wants more restrictions, but even the right accepts the current infringements. But that’s an easy one. What about the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of.” How is not allowing people to pray in public places like schools not prohibiting the “free exercise there of”? No one according to this amendment should ever be forced to pray, but neither should anyone be forced not to pray. The government forces people not to pray all the time. Amendment III, that soldiers cannot be quartered in private homes, is one that the government still follows. But Amendment IV, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Is it unreasonable to search someone because they are attending a City Council meeting, or have to...

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Tale of Two Parking Decks

The two new parking decks planned for downtown Greensboro have taken a bizarre twist. According to the most recent information, the Westin Hotel-February One Place parking deck looks like it’s a go and The Carroll Companies parking deck at Bellemeade and North Eugene streets will not be built. According to sources close to the City Council, although it is not on the Tuesday, April 24 agenda, a deal to settle the lawsuit filed by Cone Denim Entertainment Center owner Rocky Scarfone against the City of Greensboro has been reached and may be added to the agenda. Scarfone will reportedly...

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Heated Republican State House Primary: Mark McDaniel and Jon Hardister

Early voting opens Thursday, April 19 for the May 8 primary. So far most of the races have been pretty quiet. There are no statewide races on the primary ballot. On the Republican ballot, the only countywide race is for sheriff, where Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes is being challenged by Steve Parr. The Democrats have been fired up since their big losses in 2016, and it is reflected in the primary where there are a total of three countywide races and primaries in both the 6th and 13th congressional districts. One race where the candidates are making some...

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City’s Cafe Europa Story Has Some Holes

The good news is that Cafe Europa will be staying right where it is – in the city-owned Cultural Center building on Davie Street. The bad news is that the city wasn’t completely honest about why Jakub Pucilowski, who owns the restaurant, had to go through a request for proposal (RFP) process, which opened the lease up to anyone who wanted to bid on it. I was told that putting leases out for an RFP when they expire was the current policy of the city. The example given was the Gillespie Park grill. When that lease and the renewals...

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Localized Tornado Disrupts Entire City

In all the news coverage of the severe thunderstorms and tornados that caused so much damage in east Greensboro late Sunday afternoon, I haven’t seen anything about the damage to the White Street Landfill. Somebody asked me how a landfill could be damaged, particularly a closed landfill. But although the White Street Landfill is closed to municipal solid waste – what most of us call garbage – it is where the city takes yard waste, like limbs and downed trees, and construction debris. So along with everything else the city had to do on Monday, April 16, it had...

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Under the Hammer: April 19, 2018

Finally something all Americans can agree on: Former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta said that former FBI Director Jim Comey was an idiot, “an honest idiot but … an idiot” in an interview on CNN. Trump supporters have no use for Comey, so if Hillary Clinton supporters have no use for him either, maybe the entire country can agree that Comey was a horrible FBI director who deserved to get fired. President Donald Trump has gotten himself in a bad spot by not making the right decisions as president-elect and now it’s nearly impossible to go back and fix them. Trump should have fired Comey on Jan. 20, and it seems likely that at least some of his advisors made that recommendation. He was trying to appear above the fray and wasn’t going to hold Comey responsible for his impossible-to-defend decision not to run an actual investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Then Trump doubled down on his mistake by allowing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from a pivotal issue for the Trump presidency – the investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Trump should have known that Sessions was going to recuse himself. If he didn’t, he should have immediately gotten rid of Sessions for not being honest with him during his interviews. Trump was and appears to still be tremendously naive about...

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Rhino Shorts: April 19, 2018

Preservation Greensboro Julian Price House Tour Tours of the Julian Price House in Fisher Park continue through Sunday, April 29. The general admission tours are $35 each and a guided tour is $75. To find out more, go to https://preservationgreensboro.org/hillside/. The April Schmoozefest is Thursday, April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Loaded Grape at 2915 Battleground Ave. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all
business professionals who sign in and wear a name tag while supplies last. ***** Here’s some good news for Greensboro residents: Because of the severe storms and tornado on Sunday, the...

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City Council Mini Work Session Gets in the Weeds over Boards and Commissions

The Greensboro City Council opened its small group meetings or mini-work sessions to the public and held its first mini work session on Tuesday, April 10.   The meeting was to discuss boards and commissions appointed by the City Council, about as mundane a topic as imaginable. With all that is going on in Greensboro right now, spending one of its rare work sessions on boards and commissions is an odd choice. Both parking deck projects much ballyhooed by the City Council as moving the downtown forward are in limbo. There is no signed contract to begin work on either...

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Counsultant Says City Legally Discriminates

I have never been a big fan of the Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise program, mainly because I have always said that it was designed to discriminate against people who look like me. City Councilmembers and city staff have not agreed and often told me it was not designed to discriminate against anyone. So it was somewhat refreshing to hear the report by Rodney Strong of Griffin & Strong on the recently completed MWBE disparity study prepared for the City of Greensboro because he made no bones about the program being a program that discriminates. The report was given at the City Council work session held in the Council Chambers last week. As Strong noted, MWBE programs are legal discrimination. The federal courts have ruled that because of discrimination and disparity in awarding contracts it is legal to discriminate in favor of those who have been discriminated against. It seems obvious that if a program gives special privileges based on race and gender that it discriminates, but local officials don’t like to admit that the program discriminates in favor of minorities and females and against white males. The purpose of the disparity study is to prove that there is disparity in the way Greensboro does business, which provides the legal justification for Greensboro to encourage discrimination in favor of minorities and women. The disparity study, of course, proved that...

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